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New Wikistrat Simulation: Ebola – A Global Health Challenge


 

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An outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has given rise to fears of a pandemic. But despite the panic, there might be opportunities as well. The outbreak could be a wake-up call for the region and accelerate the expansion of private health care infrastructure there.

Ebola spread globe

This week, Wikistrat launches a new crowdsourced simulation to study the challenge posed by the Ebola virus outbreak to health policy globally. The simulation allows analysts to propose both positive and negative outcomes within comprehensive, competing scenario pathways of the disease’s spread and termination.

Since a major outbreak of the Ebola virus disease was first reported in Guinea in March 2014, an epidemic has spread across West Africa. This already marks the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history. The disease is no longer contained to the region: A Saudi Arabian man traveling home from Sierra Leone is believed to have died of Ebola in early August. Two American aid workers were infected in Liberia.

While the spread of the epidemic raises the prospect of countries shutting their borders and fending off immigrants, there are arguments against Ebola becoming a true pandemic. The virus is not airborne and cannot survive outside the body for long. Symptoms show relatively quickly and patients typically die before infecting more than one or two others.

Fears of a pandemic nevertheless abound. Saudi Arabia has stopped issuing visas to Muslim pilgrims from West Africa. British Airways this month suspended all flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone — while most Western governments have advised their citizens to avoid the region. Civil unrest, the absence of adequate medical services and low trust in both authority and foreign aid workers might yet pose the biggest risk.

WS AnalystsAre you interested in participating in simulations like these? Apply for membership to the analytic community here.

Stay tuned to Wikistrat’s Facebook and Twitter channels for updates and insights from this simulation!

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Ask a Senior Analyst — Miriam L. Campanella


 

Wikistrat’s Facebook and Twitter followers recently engaged in a 24-hour exclusive Q&A session with one of Wikistrat’s Senior Analysts, Miriam L. Campanella. Questions and Ms. Campanella’s answers are transcribed below.

Miriam Campanella

Miriam L. Campanella is a Jean Monnet Professor at the University of Turin and a ECIPE Senior Fellow. She has published extensively on European monetary and financial institutions, contributing to several edited books and journals. With Sylvester C.W. Eijffiger, she co-authored EU Economic Governance and Globalization (2003). Since then, her research focus has shifted to Asia and the region’s attempts to build up independent monetary and financial facilities.

Omololu T. Hebron: What will be the implications of monetary and financial integration in East Asia on the economies of the developing countries? Will these developing economies benefit more in such a regional bloc in terms of manufacturing and boosting of their domestic economy?

Answer: Your question touches on a major issue in economics, as it relates to monetary integration, a proxy of a fixed exchange rate via an anchor-basket or a major currency (or a synthetic currency, as the European Currency Unit in the European Monetary System) that delivers trade-promoting gains for the parties involved.

European Union (EU) members with the bilateral Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1980, and European Monetary Union (EMU) in the 1990s, took almost three decades to stabilize exchange rates and finally establish a single currency. This coordination exercise helped indeed to adjust EU economies to meet in some way the parameters of an optimum currency area, conditional to the success of a single currency. According to economists of different quarters, this way is barred to East Asian countries as the U.S. dollar plays a pivotal role in the area.

Given that the Europeans took three decades to work out a regional exchange rate diplomacy, and to adopt the euro, East Asia, in the wake of 2008-2009 financial crisis, started moving in a surprising way. The collapse of trade financing during the crisis, which contributed to a 20 percent drop in China’s exports, made Chinese authorities aware of the intrinsic instability of the existing monetary regime which is based on one national currency that performs the role of global reserve currency. In order to bypass the U.S. dollar, the middleman of regional trade, the People’s Bank of China intensified bilateral currency swap agreements signed with other central banks to insure against a repeat of these events.

A second defining moment came with the RMB becoming a reference exchange-rate anchor. When this role intensifies, a currency bloc tends to develop around the reference currency whose monetary policy becomes dominant. Since 2010, the RMB has surpassed the dollar and the euro by becoming the top reference currency in East Asia and the Philippines. The dollar’s dominance as reference currency in East Asia is now limited to Hong Kong (by virtue of the peg), Vietnam and Mongolia. Yet the RMB as the top exchange-rate reference currency is not restricted to East Asia. For Chile, India and South Africa, the RMB is the dominant reference currency. For Israel and Turkey, the RMB is a more important reference currency than the dollar.

These developments are evidence of the relevance of the China’s RMB as an exchange rate stabilizer, a critical factor of trade performance to developing economies. (more…)

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Ask a Senior Analyst — Michael J. Geary


 

Wikistrat’s Facebook and Twitter followers recently engaged in a 24-hour exclusive Q&A session with one of Wikistrat’s Senior Analysts, Michael J. Geary. Questions and Mr. Geary’s answers are transcribed below.

Michal Geary

Michael J. Geary is an Assistant Professor of Contemporary Europe/European Union at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, a Non-Residential Global Fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for European Global Studies, University of Basel, Switzerland. He is the author of two books and numerous articles/op-eds about the process of European Union (EU) integration and enlargement, transatlantic relations and British-Irish relations

Mr. Geary has held distinguished fellowships including a Fulbright, Global Europe Fellowship at the Wilson Center and a European Parliament-Bronisław Geremek Research Fellowship at the College of Europe (Warsaw). He holds a PhD from the European University Institute, Florence, Italy.

Shaun Riordan: With the deepening integration of the eurozone, the European Union increasingly seems divided into (at least) three parts: the eurozone, the Eurosceptic North-West and a somewhat abandoned Eastern Europe (also seeing increasing nationalist thinking). How do you see this de facto three speed EU development, what implications does it have for the Treaty of Lisbon (and the European Commission) and how will it impact Britain’s relations with the EU?

Answer: Much depends on how one defines Euroscepticism. It is not necessarily an unhealthy phenomenon. The problem arises when it gets bound up with unhealthy doses of nationalism and right- and left-wing propaganda and the reluctance of mainstream parties to combat the rhetoric. There are differences and divergences between the 28 member states on certain policy fields (foreign policy, agriculture, environment). These have always existed, but managing differences perhaps has become more challenging with each round of accession.

The multi-speed or multi-dimensional nature that you describe is a cause for concern, but I would argue is an inevitable result of the nature of the integration process linked to successive rounds of enlargements. An enlarged EU does not necessarily mean deeper integration with every member state on the same bus and going in the same direction. Each of the 28 is faced with particular national challenges and each has a different relationship with, and approach to, European integration and its direction. Differences have existed since day one whether these are related to policies or visions. The euro and Schengen Area are examples of the multi-speed nature of the EU’s policy framework.

Britain (like other countries) has been able to negotiate op-outs and most likely will continue to exercise this option into the future. London seems to have greater issue with decisions emanating from the Council of Europe than with decisions from the EU’s legal watchdogs. I do not think this continued piecemeal integration greatly affects British-EU relations. Part of the problem for London will be to convince the other 27 capitals (and the EU institutions) to agree to the package of changes (still undefined) likely to be sought after next year’s British general election (should the Conservatives return to government).

There seems to be very little appetite in wanting to accommodate London’s demands (unlike in the mid-1970s, but the Community only had nine members then). Attempts to forge deeper links between eurozone countries through wider treaty changes (a new EU treaty) would allow Britain the opportunity to seek a grand bargain mirrored on what David Cameron mentioned in his January 2013 speech on the subject. Much will depend on the generosity of his EU counterparts and their interest (or lack thereof) in keeping Britain inside the EU. The integration process will continue with Britain maintaining semi-insider status. Much more interesting is whether Britain withdraws from the Council of Europe and the impact that this might have on its relations with the EU. (more…)

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When Scotland Leaves the UK: How Will the World React?


 

How will the world react to Scottish independence? Wikistrat’s newest infographic shows there are three scenarios.

When Scotland Leaves the UK Wikistrat Infographic

Based on Wikistrat’s recently concluded crowdsourced simulation “When Scotland Leaves the UK,” the infographic shows three scenario pathways for an independent Scotland, each with different implications for separatist movements elsewhere, the European Union and Russia.

Click here or on the image above to see the full version.

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The Ottoman Presidency? Report Released


 

If, as expected, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wins his country’s presidential election this month, he is likely to use his mandate to consolidate his power domestically — which will be seen as a move toward authoritarianism that will increase popular dissatisfaction.

The Ottoman Presidency Wikistrat report

This was one of the main findings from a two-day crowdsourced simulation Wikistrat ran in late July called “The Ottoman Presidency?” in which some 35 analysts, including Turkey experts, Middle East generalists and political theorists, collaborated to develop 21 distinct scenarios that described potential pathways for the first year of an Erdoğan presidency.

In the report released today, Wikistrat Senior Analyst S. Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana summarizes the simulation’s findings in 11 strategic takeaways.

While the simulation concluded, by and large, that Erdoğan would use a presidential election victory to expand his own power and entrench his ruling AK Party, Wikistrat’s analysts cautioned that this pathway is conditioned on continued economic success for Turkey and improved relations with the country’s large Kurdish minority.

Wikistrat’s analysts also pointed out that Erdoğan’s victory might not play well abroad. Western allies of Turkey will be disconcerted by the country’s rising Islamism while Middle Eastern Sunni states, especially Egypt and the Arab Gulf monarchies, see Erdoğan’s pro-Islamist and “Neo-Ottoman” foreign policy as detrimental to their national security interests.

Click here or on the cover image to download the PDF report.

For more information about Wikistrat and for access to the full simulation archive, contact info@wikistrat.com.

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An ISIS Spillover Into Jordan Report Released


 

An attempt by Sunni Islamist militants to infiltrate Jordan would pose a significant challenge to the embattled kingdom. But there are opportunities for the country as well, Wikistrat’s analysts say.

An ISIS Spillover Into Jordan Final Report

Recent conquests by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) — which now calls itself the “Islamic State” — have put the country of Jordan at risk. The group has proclaimed a caliphate that aspires to consolidate political and religious control over the entire region.

Jordan already finds itself under great pressure, hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian refugees — some affiliated with the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other Salafist groups. Originating from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, the country’s diverse population makes it vulnerable to the influence of radical forces. A serious infiltration by ISIS into Jordan would not only pose a threat to the stability of the Hashemite Kingdom but could also drag Israel and the United States into the conflict.

Earlier this month, Wikistrat conducted a two-day crowdsourced simulation in which its analysts were asked to identify the ways in which the Islamic State could seek to penetrate Jordan.

In the summary report released today, Wikistrat Senior Analyst Jeffrey Itell highlights four paths the Islamist organization could take to infiltrate Jordan. While none of the scenarios seem promising for the Islamic State, Jordan is under significant pressure from unprecedented numbers of refugees, chaotic civil wars on two borders, turbulent politics and an overall weak economy. Any major misstep could provide the Islamic State with an opening that is not readily apparent. At the same time, recent events may present Jordan with opportunities to improve its security as well.

Click here or on the report’s cover image to download the PDF file.

A summary of the report was also published this week in The World Post, The Huffington Post‘s international edition.

For more information about Wikistrat and for access to the full simulation archive, contact info@wikistrat.com.

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New Wikistrat Discussion Forum: The Future of Warfare


 

The Future of Warfare banner

What is the future of warfare? Which aspects of war are immutable and which are likely to evolve? How will the nature and character of warfare change over the coming century?

To answer these questions, Wikistrat launched a Discussion Forum this week called “The Future of Warfare.” Over the course of the next couple of weeks, analysts can share their thoughts on future threats, technology and the changing role of the individual soldier.

The past three decades have seen the rapid adoption of new technologies in all domains of warfare. The advent of unmanned systems, precision strike, persistent and expanded sensors and cyberwarfare — to name but a few of the dramatic changes — seems to indicate a new “Revolution in Military Affairs.”

This discussion is intended to carry on this conversation and question whether or not such a revolution has occurred — and what the future may hold.

WS AnalystsAre you interested in participating in conversations like these? Apply for membership to the analytic community here.

Stay tuned to Wikistrat’s Facebook and Twitter channels for updates and insights from this simulation!

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New Wikistrat Simulation: The Ottoman Presidency?


 

The Ottoman Presidency banner

In anticipation of the Turkish presidential election, Wikistrat launches a two-day “speed simulation” today. Analysts are asked to assess whether Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the current prime minister, will be able to create an “imperial presidency” if indeed he wins the election and whether a victory will enable or frustrate his “Neo-Ottoman” foreign policy.

Erdoğan is widely expected to win his country’s first direct presidential election on August 10. Opinion polls have put him consistently ahead of his closest rival, the veteran diplomat Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, although recent surveys have given Erdoğan less than 50 percent support, raising the possibility that a second-round runoff will be needed to determine the winner.

An election victory would be a welcome boost for Erdoğan who has been accused of abusing his office to stave off corruption probes. The premier is popular among conservative Sunni Turks, especially in the Anatolian heartland, but also among the urbanized middle classes that have benefited from his relatively liberal economic policies. However, in the major cities and among the young, he is increasingly seen as marginalizing non-pious and secular Muslims while pursuing a reckless foreign policy.

The question in this election, then, is not whether Erdoğan will win, but what he will do with his victory — and how the opposition will react.

WS AnalystsAre you interested in participating in simulations like these? Apply for membership to the analytic community here.

Stay tuned to Wikistrat’s Facebook and Twitter channels for updates and insights from this simulation!

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Ask a Senior Analyst — Norvell DeAtkine


 

Wikistrat’s Facebook and Twitter followers recently engaged in a 24-hour exclusive Q&A session with one of Wikistrat’s Senior Analysts, Norvell DeAtkine. Questions and Mr. Campbell’s answers are transcribed below.

Norvell DeAtkine

Norvell DeAtkine is a retired U.S. Army Colonel of the field artillery with service in Germany, Korea and Vietnam. He lived and worked in the Arab World for nearly nine years, graduating from the Arab Studies Program at the American University of Beirut. He later served as an advisor to the Jordanian and Egyptian Armies and conducted many short training missions for various Gulf Armies, including his operation as a liaison to the British Trucial Oman Scouts prior to British departure from the Gulf.

Mr. DeAtkine was a seminar director with the Regional Studies program at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School for over eighteen years where he primarily taught special operations officers — which included two short tours as a mentor with psychological operations units in Iraq. Other assignments have included stints with the analytical branch of the CIA, Iraqi Intelligence cell of the DIA and the USMC Cultural Studies Center at Quantico.

André de Vries: Do you think the “caliphate” proclaimed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Iraq is maintainable in the long run?

Answer: I feel more confident writing about the past than I do about the future, but as history replays itself so often in the Arab world, I can write on the historical aspects that will likely come into play at some point.

My bottom line upfront is that the “Islamic State” as it exits today will not have a long lifespan. It is, in the words of Fouad Ajami (writing about other Arab grand schemes), “The Dream Palace of the Arabs,” another grandiose movement like pan-Arabism that has no foundation in reality. As the noted Arab journalist Hisham Melhem puts it in a recent article in Al-Arabiya,

One does not know whether to laugh or to cry at the sight of the self-proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim addressing the Muslim Umma [community] as its new righteous ruler. This is the man who is straddling a large swath of Iraq and Syria, and imposing a primitive form of an absolute intolerant religious rule that intimidate Muslims and terrifies Christians. For years to come, we will be asking: how did we reach such a nadir? How did it happen? How did we engulf ourselves in this endless darkness?

Perhaps more importantly, the new Islamic State has little in the way of economic resources and will be surrounded by enemies and peoples fearful of its expansion. First of all, the ISIS brand of Islam is not popular, not even among the Sunnis, nor even other radical groups of Islamists for whom they claim their leadership. Much of its expansion in Syria and Iraq has been based on the unpopularity of the existing governments. Now having assumed control of this territory, they must administer it. It is easier to conquer than govern. Many observers have opined that Islamists in power are the best cure for their pretensions. Although one cannot compare the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt to the ISIS, nevertheless the inability to govern on slogans like “Islam is the Answer” has been borne out in the case of Egypt.

ISIS is a movement with no real program to govern and as a movement they, like all similar totalitarian movements, must expand or die. They will not and cannot be satisfied with simply the expanse of mostly desert they control in Syria and Iraq. The surrounding governments know this and belatedly some like Turkey and Saudi Arabia have realized the genie is out of the box. The governmental support previously (however covert it has been) coming from elements inside both Saudi Arabia and Turkey will end and the implacable hostility of Iran, the Kurds and the Shia and Alawi of Syria and Iraq will always pose an existential threat to the Islamic State.

Little noticed, along the Turkish-Islamic State border, the great majority of people are the Alevis of Turkey. They form a large minority in turkey. They are an offshoot of Shia Islam and have never taken kindly to the oppressive Sunnism of the Turkish government and hate the Islamist movement, which in the Arab world has always been Sunni-oriented.

Looking at history, I am unconvinced that the Sykes-Picot division of the Arab world into states is dead. Despite the fact that the Arab elite has always portrayed it as the reason for the weakness of the Arab world, the regimes have shed enormous amounts of blood to keep the borders intact.

The tentacles of the state apparatus in so many areas of human life are very difficult to uproot.

For these reasons, I do not see a long life for the “Islamic” State. (more…)

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Capt. Wayne Porter Joins Wikistrat August 1st


 

Wayne Porter

Wikistrat is pleased to announce that upon completion of his PhD work in the application of system dynamics to strategic planning, Capt. Wayne Porter, U.S. Navy (Ret.) will be joining the staff of Wikistrat — the world’s first crowdsourced consultancy specializing in national security and geopolitics.

Wayne’s training and experience in modeling complex systems brings valuable expertise to Wikistrat at a time when the company is expanding its analytic services to include persistent monitoring capabilities through crowdsourced datamodeling for leveraging big data feeds for both the public and private sectors.

His work in strategic planning on the personal staff of both the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has received international recognition. His multiple overseas tours of duty included serving as the Assistant Chief of Staff (Intelligence) for U.S. and combined naval forces in the Persian Gulf. He is the co-author of “A National Strategic Narrative,” published by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and has written widely in publications that include the Harvard Business Review, Hotspring Journal Quarterly and Naval Institute Proceedings. His work has been cited internationally by such luminaries as former British Foreign Minister David Milliband, former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Wayne is a Walton Fellow at Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and holds two Masters of Science Degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School. He will soon be receiving his PhD in Information Sciences and System Dynamics from the same institution where he has served as Chair, Systemic Strategy and Complexity.

Wayne’s interests and strengths lie in applying systems analysis to corporate and governmental strategic planning.

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